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Read the Daily Rant: an outsider's view on the Irish referendum
If we vote yes to the treaty will we lose the right to vote within the constitution of Ireland on European Treaties?
The Irish constitution will still ask for referendum on the ratification of European treaties. But if the Lisbon Treaty were ratified significant changes to the existing treaties could be introduced without a new treaty.
For example, if the Heads of State and governments wanted to transfer a policy from unanimity under majority voting (i.e. no vetoes possible) a referendum in Ireland is not needed. It only has to be approved by the Dáil and Seanad Éireann.
Even Dick Roche Irish Secretary for foreign Affairs confirms that in his speech to the European Union Scrutiny committee where he said: “Any move by the European Council to allow decisions previously determined unanimously to be made by QMV [Qualified Majority Voting] or to extend the co-decision procedure, can be blocked by a single national parliament or government. It is an extraordinary extension of democratic power. Up to this, whenever we spoke about a veto in Europe, we meant a veto for member state governments. We never spoke about a veto for parliaments but here we have it. This Parliament and any sister parliament in the EU can say ‘You’ve gone far enough. You will not go any further.’”
Without doubt, the Parliament and senate has to approve, but there is no need for a referendum. In consequence this is possibly the last Irish referendum on European matters: Heads of State and government can expand the EU’s frame of action in many political areas without the consent of the European Parliament and without holding an Intergovernmental Conference and the creation of a treaty. The term used in the article which provides for the change from unanimity to majority voting is now “approved”, rather than “ratified”. Ratification in Ireland requires a referendum, approval doesn’t.
Here are the relevant references in the consolidated version of the Treaty (6655/1/08 REV1 from 30 Apr 2008):
Article 48 (1) TEU
The Treaties may be amended in accordance with an ordinary revision procedure. They may also be amended in accordance with simplified revision procedures.
Article 48 (6) TEU
(...) The European Council may adopt a decision amending all or part of the provisions of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The European Council shall act by unanimity (...). That decision shall not enter into force until it is approved by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The decision referred to in the second subparagraph shall not increase the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties.
NOTE: This last sentence sounds nice, but it is a question of interpretation.
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